In Ecuador, many children live in poverty. They have limited access to education and health services, and they often have no sense of how they might improve their futures. That is why David, 19, works to help children in Ecuador learn to use their voices as he has. He shares his experiences with ChildFund.
As a child enrolled in ChildFund`s “Play and Learn to Think” program, I learned to speak confidently in public and interact with other children. Nearly 10 years later, I am still benefiting from that program and working toward ChildFund`s mission to help vulnerable children living in poverty.
Currently, I serve as a member of the Federation of Community Organizations of Imbabura (FOCI). The Federation, made up of 12 individual associations from around my province, works to encourage communities to take part in making their region better for children. Small groups of parents and youth leaders, nonprofit organizations and local authorities share responsibility in developing resolutions to problems. The federation focuses on educating children, providing health services to infants, engaging youth and empowering families within their communities. I have been a part of this organization since I was 12 years old.
By the time I turned 14, people had heard about me and knew that I represented the voice of children.
I attended many workshops focusing on the needs of children and adolescents. I met many of my closest friends during that time and also made a lot of new networks. I wanted to start a similar program in my area but could not, due to lack of resources. Instead, I increased my participation in the existing workshops and learned a great deal. I even travelled outside of my province to meet new people and gain new knowledge. Sometimes these trips demanded a lot of time and I had to travel from home for days. This meant I had to leave my studies, as well. Luckily, my parents had confidence in me and understood the importance of my work.
By the time I turned 14, people had heard about me and knew that I represented the voice of children. Although I heard there was talk of forming a child and adolescents council, I was not much interested in participating at that time. It was important for me to really focus on my studies that year. But by 15, I was ready to get involved again and became a community organizer!
As a community organizer, I was heavily involved with planning summer camps for my community. I was also responsible for developing proposals for activities that were submitted to and approved by the Federation. I had to monitor the students` attendance as well as the trainers` participation in each activity. I have to say, even I could not believe the coordination I was able to manage as a single adolescent, assisted by the community mobilizer. Recognizing my own abilities, I was then motivated to continue my work for children.
Since that time, I have continued to work within the Federation`s youth council. I still also participate in workshops and courses that help increase my knowledge of the issues facing children. I have also participated in ChildFund`s CONJUVE, a youth council that holds a national meeting to address regional problems. I hope to bring together other young people from different organizations to support the needs of children.
I am grateful to the Federation and ChildFund for continuing to support my work. I aspire to continue advocating for children and adolescents while also working to become a graphic designer, an interest I uncovered at a communications workshop offered by ChildFund.